Will raw feeding make my pet aggressive?
There is a common myth that ‘raw feeding makes pets bloodthirsty and aggressive’. And this scares many pet owners from making a switch to a raw diet. The last thing they want is an aggressive pet, and naturally so. But is there an element of truth to this idea?
Let’s read on to know more about how a complete and balanced raw diet is just what your pet dog or cat needs, and it is no cause for worry in the aggression department.
Raw feeding is not a problem
There is more to the subject of raw feeding and aggression than just raw feeding. There are a host of additional factors that need to be taken into consideration.
Aggression can often have an underlying medical condition and if your pet has been exhibiting sudden aggression, a quick trip to the veterinarian is needed.
Is your pet’s diet adequate? A raw diet lacking in essential amino acids can lead to dietary-induced aggression.
Pets value raw food tremendously. And hence, some of them might find it necessary to protect their food resources from others.
Let’s now look at these factors in detail.
If your pet is suddenly displaying aggression you need to get her checked to rule out any medical condition. There are numerous medical conditions that could cause a behavior change in dogs and cats, some of which include:
- Chronic pain
- Neurological disorders
Take your pet to the vet and have her examined thoroughly you notice your pet suddenly begin to display aggression. The earlier you catch and diagnose a medical condition, the better you will be at dealing with it.
If the trip to the vet rules out any health condition, examine your pet for a nutritional deficiency. Dogs and cats both require a set allowance of essential amino acids that help support their healthy biological functions. The body needs this amino acid daily, in the right amounts, since neither a cat nor a dog is able to synthesize the amino acid from food. Moreover, the excess amino acid gets converted into fat and cannot be used as a backup.
If our pet is low on tryptophan, then she is likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and aggression. And if the current raw diet is unable to supply sufficient amounts of the essential amino acid tryptophan, your pet could begin to display aggressive behaviors. If you have ruled out health issues and believe there is a tryptophan deficiency, it can be easily corrected by feeding sufficient amounts of tryptophan amino acid.
Where is Tryptophan found?
Tryptophan is primarily found in lean muscle meat and organs, and a raw diet can easily supply the adequate quantities of the amino acid if the right ingredients are fed. Here are a few examples of raw foods that offer the highest amount of tryptophan per ounce (28 grams):
- 1 large egg (50g): 0.084g
- Rabbit 1oz (28g): 0.082g
- Beef Liver 1oz (28g): 0.074g
- Turkey 1oz (28g): 0.071g
- Pork 1oz (28g): 0.067g
Remember, raw diets that are high in dietary fats are oftentimes lacking in tryptophan. If you are planning on feeding your pet a raw keto diet for a long duration, check with your pet’s nutritionist before you start to ensure the diet will provide the required amounts of the essential nutrient.
For your pet, a raw diet is a high-value resource, and that needs to be guarded against others who might wish to attempt to snatch it away. Not all pets will display aggressive behavior with raw food. However, when a pet displays resource guarding behavior, it is mistakenly attributed to the raw diet turning the dog or cat aggressive.
These are the likely behaviors with pets who exhibit resource guarding behavior:
Hiding to eat food
Pets might feel the current environment isn’t safe enough to eat their food and they might run away with it to hide and eat. This is a mild sign of resource guarding.
Fast and frantic eating isn’t often considered to be resource guarding. However, this is a good example as the pet feels the need to consume the food as quickly as possible to prevent it from being stolen.
Hovering head or body over food
Does your pet body block the food from others in its close proximity? This is yet another trait of resource guarding behavior.
Growling, vocalizations, teeth-baring, and biting
These are the most visible signs of aggression. And if your dog or cat exhibits growling, vocalization (barking or hissing), and teeth bearing during meal times, chances are it will escalate to biting if they sense a threat to their high valued resource.
If your pet dog or cat exhibits any of these behaviors with a raw diet, then the aggression is simply resource guarding and not the raw meat that is turning your sweet-tempered pet into a bloodthirsty creature.
Does this mean that you stop feeding your pet raw food? Far from it. By making a few feeding routine adjustments you can help improve the behavior and soothe the mental state of your pet:
Start by removing the threatening situation. If you allow your pet to engage in resource guarding behavior, those traits will simply become stronger. Create a calm and quiet environment and make sure there are no other animals or people around to be perceived as a threat.
Over time, your pet should learn to trust the food giver and also allow other members of the family to be present during its meal times and not see them as threats.
Do not let the resource guarding escalate to a point where the aggression is not safe. Take the help of a qualified dog trainer with experience in positive behavioral modification around resource guarding.
To go back to the original question of the article, no, a raw diet does not make dogs or cats aggressive or bloodthirsty. Rule out any medical conditions that could be causing aggression, and also ensure your pet is getting sufficient amino acids.
If both the conditions are accounted for, the aggression is coming from resource guarding. Follow a consistent feeding routine to build trust and eliminate any display of resource guarding. Turn to a behavior modification training program before the food aggression escalates.